Findings from research are needed in order to develop a successful national programme to combat foot rot. The FSVO is thus funding various studies on foot rot.
Foot rot or infectious pododermatitis is a painful hoof infection that occurs worldwide. Mainly affecting sheep, it causes substantial economic losses in Switzerland. A national control programme under FSVO direction has been in planning since 2015.
Together with major stakeholders in sheep farming, the FSVO is developing a Concept for nationwide control (link in German).
To develop the best possible strategy, data and information are needed. These are emerging from various fields of research into foot rot. The efficiency of control and the methods used are being investigated. If possible, control should be carried out without the use of antibiotics. Careful handling of the sheep is another area of focus. Selected research topics are shown below:
Research projects on foot rot
The usual foot bath agents with proven efficacy have considerable disadvantages: Some are carcinogenic and are thus dangerous when handled by the livestock farmers. Others contain heavy metals and after the treatment have to be disposed of as hazardous waste. For this reason the FSVO is supporting a research project in the University of Bern to identify alternative foot bath agents. They should be effective and able to be used without the abovementioned disadvantages. ARAMIS – 1.19.06
The background to this issue is in the Swiss antibiotic resistance strategy (StAR) (in German). The strategy has the objective, inter alia, of reducing the use of antibiotics in animals. The treatment of foot rot is supportive of this: the disease is traditionally treated with foot baths. The baths contain disinfectants and are usually free of antibiotics.
The study at the University of Bern aims to show that foot rot in afflicted herds can be eliminated by regular hoof trimming and by means of foot baths. ARAMIS – 1.18.02
The Zurich Polytechnic ETH together with the University of Bern and the Consultative and Health Service for Small Ruminants (CHSR) have examined this question and concluded:
Foot rot causes annual damages of several million Francs to sheep farmers as a result of recurring treatment costs and fattening losses. Independently of the methodology, a national control programme for the disease is worthwhile not only financially but also for the well-being of Swiss sheep. ARAMIS – 15.05
In order to be able to estimate the dimensions of a national control programme one must understand how frequently and in which animal species the pathogen occurs.
In a large-scale study at the University of Bern various domestic and wild ruminant animals in Switzerland have been examined by means of the new swab samples. This proved that the disease is widespread in sheep. In other domestic ruminants, such as cattle, goats or new world camelids as well as in wild ruminants, foot rot seldom occurs in Switzerland. ARAMIS – 1.17.05
For a long time foot rot could only be identified based on clinical symptoms. This meant that the hooves of all the sheep had to be examined. The method proved its value. Nevertheless, the disease could not always be identified, for example when a sheep had just been infected or when it spread the pathogen further, without itself showing the symptoms.
In a study carried out in the University of Bern, a reliable laboratory test has been developed that enables foot rot to be detected by means of swab samples. A further study also optimised the sampling in sheep herds, such that all samples do not have to be individually examined. ARAMIS - 1.13.04
The project for preparation of a national campaign to control foot rot in sheep (in German)
Informationen, Artikel und Präsentationen rund um die Vorbereitungsarbeiten für ein nationales Bekämpfungsprogramm gegen die Moderhinke.
Foot rot in sheep (in German)
Information on foot rot in sheep: Articles, videos, technical information and presentations.
Final report on cost-benefit analysis of a campaign to control foot rot in Switzerland (in German) (PDF, 4 MB, 20.05.2021)
Im umfangreichen Schlussbericht der Wirtschaftlichkeitsstudie der ETH, der Universität Bern und des Beratungs- und Gesundheitsdienstes für Kleinwiederkäuer BGK werden die Vorgehensweise, die einzelnen Teilstudien und die Schlussfolgerungen der Kosten-Nutzen-Analyse einer Bekämpfung der Moderhinke in der Schweiz beschrieben. ARAMIS – 15.05
Last modification 01.05.2023